Friday, August 31, 2012

David Nelson - The Shade Tree Choir - Author Interview

Author Interview

1. How did you come up with the title?
The setting of the book is in my neighborhood where I was raised. One of the oldest elementary schools in Dubuque, Iowa is Audubon. It was built in the early to mid 1800s. At the edge of the school property there once stood an elm tree that towered over the rooftops in our deprived corner of the world. It had an exposed root system where we as kids would sit. The older boys sat on the best roots that were directly next to the tree. The younger kids had to sit father away on the small roots. Everyone knew that tradition. In the 1950s no girls were allowed to sit by the tree. They knew the tradition and accepted it.

While under this ‘shade tree’, we would sing as loud as we could to the school janitor whenever he would come outside to work. The song we sang was to the “Death March” and went like this: “Poor old Merle for the worst is yet to come – HEY!” The ‘Hey” part was the most important. He would call us ‘little assholes’ and we would crack up with laughter. That is where I created the name of my novel, The Shade Tree Choir. The more pissed we were at adults (usually our parents who beat us), the louder we sang.

2. Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
Yes, there are several messages.
  • If the reader does not come from a dysfunctional home I want him/her to attain a glimpse of what can happen behind closed doors.
  • I want the reader to learn some of the effects mental illness and alcoholism have on children.
  • If the reader were an authority figure such as a schoolteacher, I would hope he/she would gain some insight into poor behavior of students. Not all-bad behavior is inherent. Maybe, that school bully is beaten at home and ‘somebody is going to pay’!
  • If a teenager living in a dysfunctional home reads my book, I would most certainly HOPE they realize they can get out. I set a goal at eight years of age to get out. I knew I was a fast sprinter and at that young and tender age I still was able to figure out that my running ability was my ticket. I hope that poor teenager finds their talent and focuses on it.
  • A student in college studying psychology or sociology would gain insight into defense mechanisms that can be created even in an eight year old boy in order to survive constant physical and mental abuse / trauma. This living situation can be compared to PTSD creating severe depression, withdrawal, thoughts of suicide, and high anxiety disorders.
  • I would hope the reader would appreciate the phrase “It takes a village to raise a child.” I was accepted into my friend’s family and because of their kindness and support I was able to find some sense of normalcy. I had track coaches and teachers that I allude to in the book who helped me meet my goal of getting away.
  • There is a large group in the world called Adult Children of Alcoholics. Every single one of these who read my book would be nodding their heads with understanding throughout. These ‘Adult Children’ typically suffer from a lifetime of depression, anxiety, poor at relationships, some take to the bottle while others become perfectionists. For me, I became a perfectionist.
3. How much of the book is realistic?
80% of the novel is real.

4. If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your book?
Yes. In the 1950s, most all of our fathers were WWII veterans. Dubuque, Iowa is a blue-collar city with a long tradition of hard working, manual laborers. There are pockets in the city where the people are uneducated. That was my neighborhood. Our parents taught us to hate Blacks, Orientals, and anyone else we thought was beneath us. Our fathers hated their lot in life. I wish I had developed this better. But that gives me something to do with the sequel.

5. What was the hardest part of writing your book?
I mentioned earlier about defense mechanisms that are developed in order to survive. I did not know that I had suppressed a memory that was traumatic when it popped into my conscious state. In the book you will read a part where I was locked away in a darkened stairwell for some sixteen hours with no food, water, or light of any kind. I did not know I suppressed that awful memory until writing my book. That ‘old ghost’ came up and bit me. I remember actually sobbing while trying to write that part.

Sobbing at times seemed to be the norm in writing this book. Many times I said to myself, “Jesus am I ever lucky to have made it out.”

So the emotional catharsis was the hardest part.

6. Did you learn anything from writing your book and what was it?
Oh, my yes. Do you know how we all say we should call an old friend and say ‘hello’ and then never do? I now make it a point to say thanks to old friends that helped me out back then. As a matter of fact four of us have re-kindled our teenage friendships and I am the one who will write the next book about all of us. I am now very close to my older sister and brother.

7. Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?
When I was seven years old I made a booklet titled ‘Why I Like My Mom’. It was for Mother’s Day. There were cut out pictures from magazines and I wrote several passages under the pictures. She looked at it and threw it in the trash. But that did not stifle my writing.

In 11th grade I wrote my first poem called “It”. The teacher and class loved it.

In college I had a minor in English and loved to write. I once wrote a comparison of Jesus to Mark Twain and that short story was selected as the best in all of the classes.

I continued to write during my career as a physical therapist. I’ve had numerous articles on health-related issues published in magazines, journals, and newspapers.

I continued writing poetry – but of a different sort. I am the Cowboy Poet Laureate of Tennessee. I wrote numerous poems and short stories, and then performed them live on stage. I have entertained folks nationwide with my work. I have done opening acts for the late Tammy Wynette, Johnny Paycheck, Diamond Rio and many others. I was on NPR many years ago. I was on Florida Public Television and featured in numerous newspapers across the country.

8. Who is your favorite author and what is it that really strikes you about their work?
Mark Twain is the best storyteller ever! I like his use of sarcasm, humor, and insight into human behavior. What a gift he had in being able to show faults with politicians, religious zealots, and the general public without them being upset. Pretty neat!

9. Tell us your latest news.
I said earlier I am The Cowboy Poet Laureate of Tennessee. For years crowds asked if I had my work in print. I have tickled to tell you that in about one month my cowboy poetry and some stories will be out for the public. It is called Campfire Collection of Cowpoke Poetry. It is through Cowboy Poet Press.

The book can be seen on my web page. I use phrases like, “Laugh ‘till ya leak.” And, “Where a little bull goes a long way.” Like Mark Twain, I love ‘tongue-in-cheek humor.

10. Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
There is nothing more powerful in writing than a ‘Thank You’. Authors do so appreciate a kind word from readers. When you, the reader likes a work, take the time to send a note of thanks to the author.

To the aspiring writer: Write for the pure enjoyment of the art. Allow your heart to leap on to the page.


About the Book

Meet eight-year-old Krame. His friends call him the “Thinker,” and he’s leader of their gang since he’s always the one to plot their pranks so they won’t get caught. At home, though, there’s no getting away with anything. Krame’s father is an alcoholic, who beats him mercilessly, forces him to stand in the corner for hours on end, and locks him in an unlit stairwell without food or water. His mentally ill mother is also an alcoholic, and fails to give her son any scrap of emotional support. Things go on like this… until tragedy strikes.


   The grim truth of Krame’s childhood stays hidden for forty years until he opens up to one of his old friends when he returns home to bury his father. In the process of recollecting his past, Krame discovers his father was not who he thought he was.

Price: $12.99, $3.99 ebook
Pages: 135
Genre: Fiction based on fact, drama
Publisher: Cowboy Poet Press
Release Date: August 2012
Buy Link: DavidNelsonAuthor.com


About the Author

David Nelson graduated from the University of Dubuque located in Dubuque, Iowa. He received his post graduate degree in Physical Therapy from the University of Iowa, College of Medicine, School of Physical Therapy. He is now a retired physical therapist.

He is a national public speaker on dysfunctional families and alcoholism. He has spoken on stress management, ergonomics, back pain prevention and many other health-related topics.

He is the Cowboy Poet Laureate of Tennessee and performs across the country with his show, “The Cowboy Comedy Show”. www.cowboycomedyshow.com

Links to connect with David:
Web site 

Blog
Facebook (personal)

Facebook (fan page)
Twitter
Google+ 

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Thursday, August 30, 2012

Allan Shickman - Zan-Gah series - Guest Post

Guest Post

ZAN-GAH: A PREHISTORIC ADVENTURE, the first of my three books, is a story of survival and brotherhood in the late Paleolithic period. Although I wanted to keep the setting indefinite—it could have taken place in Turkey, Siberia, Morocco, or most anywhere—it was inspired by my travels in the American West. How, I asked myself, would a prehistoric boy survive in a comparable barren wilderness of deserts, rocky places, and salt lakes, armed only with a spear? I tried to put myself in my hero's place.

Zan-Gah, is in search of his missing twin brother, Dael. His long quest leads to suffering, captivity, and conflict. In three years, he passes from an uncertain boyhood to a tried and proven manhood and a role of leadership among his people. I was very interested in character development. If my characters grew, my young readers would grow too.

As an art historian, I am familiar with the art of prehistoric times, and some of the theories that try to explain it. But the fact is, we don’t know a great deal about those times. What was their language like? How did they feel about caves that were warm in the winter an cool in the summer? Did they feel love for their families and compassion for those among them who were suffering? Would they be willing to struggle and kill for a scrap of food or well-made weapon? Were the tribes of people very different from each other, and did they always fight; or did they trade and cooperate at times? How did they feel about twins?

I did some research, but I had to make up lots of the details. There are prehistoric studies, but in the end I had to invent a world both brutal and plausible. I borrowed art and ritual from various tribal societies and combined them. I imagined motives of hate, vengeance, and furious emotion—and at the same time I brought up issues of honor, family, love, and leadership. These books were not meant to be simply "archaeological"; I needed to say something about real life.

The first book is about becoming a man in a time that not many lived to be old. I intended it to be more than a little frightening. Hopefully, the reader will dream of it at night. One woman (a psychologist) told me that she did.

ZAN-GAH AND THE BEAUTIFUL COUNTRY is the first sequel. The characters are a little older now, and married. Zan and his brother come into conflict in a world already troubled by tribal strife. The twin, Dael, dominates this book. Disturbed and traumatized, all of his manic energies explode into acts of hostility and bloodshed. Again, I wanted Dael to be scary, and the entire story to tremble.

DAEL AND THE PAINTED PEOPLE continues the narrative. It is the story of deeply wounded people who manage to heal each other and embrace life. It explores prehistoric magic, and describes a way of living entirely different from that of the earlier two books. And it is a love story.

I want these novels to excite and enrich young minds, and move older readers too. They are intended to incorporate issues of honor, courage, resourcefulness, sacrifice, and human vulnerability into dynamic and impelling narratives. The hero, Zan-Gah, confronts the problems of a harsh, real world devoid of supernatural solutions. Nature, playing an important role, is both terrifying and beautiful. Dael is like a force of nature, and a hard man to like.

I wrote the three ZAN-GAH books mainly for the young adult/teen market. They are accessible to good readers aged 11 and above. Although the main characters are mostly young, I was glad to find that the stories appealed to adults too. They have been favored by educators and librarians. Kids eat them up, bless 'em.


About the Books

ZAN-GAH: A PREHISTORIC ADVENTURE: The hero, Zan-Gah seeks his lost twin in a savage prehistoric world, encountering suffering, captivity, conflict, love, and triumph. In three years, Zan-Gah passes from an uncertain boyhood to a tried and proven manhood and a position of leadership with his people.

Price: $9.95
Pages: 160
Genre: Young adult/teen adventure fiction
Publisher: Earthshaker Books
Release date: 2007
ISBN: 0979035708
Buy Link



ZAN-GAH AND THE BEAUTIFUL COUNTRY: The prehistoric saga continues. Zan’s troubled twin brother, Dael, having suffered greatly during his earlier captivity, receives a ruinous new shock when his wife suddenly dies. Disturbed and traumatized, all of Dael’s manic energies explode into acts of hostility and bloodshed. Tribal warfare and brothers' rivalry mar the loveliness of a beautiful new land.


Price: $9.95
Pages: 160 
Genre: Young adult/teen adventure fiction
Publisher: Earthshaker Books
Release date: 2009
ISBN: 0979035715


DAEL AND THE PAINTED PEOPLE: Dael departs with the mute girl, Sparrow in search of peace and some kind of resolution of his life. Tormented by grief and guilt, and fighting to restrain his violence, Dael goes to live with the painted people. There he finds friends and healing, but without knowing it, he makes a powerful enemy.


Price: $9.95
Pages: 168 
Genre: Young adult/teen adventure fiction
Publisher: Earthshaker Books
Release date: 2011
ISBN: 97809790357



About the Author

Artist, teacher, author, and historian ALLAN RICHARD SHICKMAN was an art history professor at the University of Northern Iowa for three decades. His first novel, ZAN-GAH: A PREHISTORIC ADVENTURE, won an Eric Hoffer Notable Book Award, and was a Finalist for the ForeWord Magazine Book of the Year Award. The series, including ZAN-GAH AND THE BEAUTIFUL COUNTRY, received the Mom's Choice Gold Seal for Excellence in family-friendly literature. DAEL AND THE PAINTED PEOPLE is the third of the ZAN-GAH book series. Shickman has published articles in English Literary Renaissance, Studies in English Literature, Notes and Queries, Colby Quarterly, Art Bulletin, Art History. He has had many letters in various newspapers, including thirteen in the New York Times.

Links to connect with Allan:
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Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Justin Ordonez - Sykosa - Guest Post



Guest Post
Cross-Gender Writing Sucks; Now Let’s All Do It Anyway


Writing teenage girls sucks, and it sucks because it’s difficult. We all know the over worn clichés about women’s emotions, menstruation, driving, and rabid shopping. I’m not here to relive those. I’m here to state a truth about writing characters. It’s that while, in general, women are hard to fully form in the written word, the hardest subgroup is teenage girls. Nothing’s harder to get right, and—this is a big “and”—nothing’s easier to bomb. Alicia Silverstone described this dilemma better than I ever could, when she surmised the best teenage girl move ever Clueless.

“I think that Clueless was very deep. I think it was deep in the way that it was very light. I think lightness has to come from a very deep place if it is true lightness."

Silverstone was chastised for this statement, attacked for being an airhead and awarded the “Foot in the Mouth Award” for “Most Baffling Statement” in 2000. Here’s the thing, though. If you can’t understand Alicia’s words, and not only understand her, but live it, think it, philosophize it, and build a lifestyle around it, you have no business writing teenage girls. Because here’s what you probably won’t believe, Alicia’s statement is 100% correct, and it’s not only 100% correct, it makes 100% perfect sense, and no one will ever speak on this subject more clairvoyantly or poignantly than Alicia did.

So what did Alicia mean?

Let me do a little trick us writers like to refer to as “storytelling.”

Being 29, I don’t spend time with teenage girls, as doing so would be disturbing. Not all writers feel this way. In order to properly understand the motivations of his heroes and heroines, author Tom Wolfe went deep undercover for his book I Am Charlotte Simmons, making his way across college campuses to familiarize himself with the modern flavor of youth. I suppose you can admire this dedication, but only if you can somehow overlook how, between finding sixty different ways to modify your name so the word “Viagra” is in it, you’re gonna get nicknames like, “Old Dumb Short Bald Dude” and, “The Pervert Grandpa,” assigned to you, and the best joke everyone’s gonna retell for decades is the time when, [enter name here], the sweet, innocent, gullible girl of the group broke into hysterical crying after being asked to envision your old, droopy balls.

Straight up player.

I don’t know about you, but there’s no way I could do it.


Look, I believe in authentic writing, I do, and think it is important to do some character study. I also like having my pride, so I know, being not entirely old myself, to stay away from these kids at all costs. They’re young, they’re good looking (even the bad looking ones), they think they’re never going to die, and years of education across a multitude of subjects has made them moderately proficient at most topics, so they can embarrass you academically even though, in reality, they don’t know anything and would crawl up into the corner, crying and sucking their thumb at their first encounter with one of life’s big, adult challenges!

(Or so I tell myself desperately every night before I go to sleep).

“I’m still young. I’m still young. I’m still young. I’m still young.”

You need to get inspiration another way.

And by “you,” I mean, “me.”

Sometimes, life just obliges.

It’s May 2011.

Sykosa—my forthcoming novel—isn’t finished. In fact, I’m a bit lost. I know I’m close to finishing it, but how long it will take to finish “close” could be three weeks or three years. I need a holiday badly. I’m about to get one. My sister lives in New York, specifically in the Lower East Side of Manhattan, which is a happening place since Lady Gaga lived there before going megastar. It’s a little neighborhood neighboring the more well known Greenwich Village, and it’s full of old buildings and young, spirited, unconsciously sexy people. My sister shares an apartment, which probably violates every zoning code in any city of America but New York, and being the size of a 1 bedroom apartment, and once again it being the city of New York, she shares it with a friend from her college days. Being the room mate introduction, it’s nothing fancy. I meet her after she comes from work, my sister and I relaxing after touring Grand Central Station. Being a writer, I can tell instantly I’ve changed their dynamic. While my sister and her friend want to make me feel welcome, it’s clear their routine after work is to drink wine and banter about who’s hooking up with whom, who wants to get married, who is scared to get married, who just needs to get their stuff together, and while they try to include me, the more time passes, the more they divulge into side conversations about their lives and circumstances.

This might be boring for me, but something keeps coming up.

Let’s see if you can identify it.

“Did you hear that so and so… Awkward turtle!” – “Oh, my God, I heard that! That was so Awkward Turtle!” – “Was it like the time…? You remember when…? Awkward Turtle!” – “That’s so crazy. It’s so Awkward Turtle whenever they’re around.”

Awkward Turtle.

Now, I’ve listened to this conversation patiently, expecting that, given a certain number of examples, its definition will become contextually obvious. It doesn’t happen. Eventually, I have to stop them, and I do. At the edge of the couch, I say, “I have to know, what exactly is…” And in the most serious, least humiliating way I can think to do it, and this is difficult considering I’m 6’4”, 230lbs, and I have the frame and a look that once inspired a random stranger to spontaneously shout, “You look like one of those assholes who rows crew at Harvard,” I put my thumbs at my forehead, extending my fingers like they were antlers, but bent so my fingertips touch fingertips, making a somewhat lazy triangle, and say, “Awkward Turtle?”

Wait a second… I’m reconsidering this whole “crew” thing.

What results is the kind of laughing that almost lacks reason. Like spectacle laughing—what happened isn’t even funny, it’s just laughing because that’s what you do when you see the asshole who rows crew at Harvard being an asshole or something. You laugh. The problem is its become contagious between my sister and her friend, as they croak and spit, each failing to reenact my too serious impersonation while assuring me, “I swear,” LOL LOL LOL HAHAHAHAHAHA! “We’re not laughing” LMAO! LMAO! LOL! HAHAHAHAHA!!! “At you—I swear, I swear!” Which becomes ever less likely as their faces turn ghostly white, and their eyes go empty, having laughed so hard they’ve dislodged their aortas, turning their insides into spinning lawn sprinklers of internal hemorrhaging and poetic justice!

(I may have imagined that last part).

Once the hilarity settles, an explanation comes. Apparently, “Awkward Turtle” is only one designation of what is a multi-leveled, hierarchically ordered classification system built to assign value to the severity of life’s awkward moments.

That’s not a joke. That’s what it is.

The dorks have a methodology to the whole thing.

(I have to call them dorks. They laughed at me for, like, five minutes).

Basically, a level of awkwardness is given an animal designation that’s paired with a hand signal at your forehead. If you’re awkwardness wasn’t too weird, it’s “Awkward Kitty.” A little worse? You get the most commonly designated one. “Awkward Turtle.” Something extremely awkward? “Awkward Shark.” Something even worse? “Awkward Hippopotamus.” What’s the top level? What’s reserved only for the type of awkwardness so bad that all social graces fail and you’ve frozen everyone in your immediate vicinity in such shock they may be contemplating whether or not spontaneous combustion is the best option for you? “Awkward Hippopotamus Out of the Water.” None of this makes sense, but my sister, who cannot stop laughing, looks at me like, what’s the matter with you, don’t you get it? and says, “Have you ever seen a hippopotamus out of the water? It’s looks so awkward and uncomfortable!”

They look fine to me…

What’s my point of this story?

I’m glad you asked.

My sister works for one of the largest consulting firms in the world. Her friend works for a major pharmaceutical company. Sure, they’re acting girlish, but it’s temporary, and when the time comes, they’ve got serious jobs and serious responsibilities—things giving them depth, character, arches, and these things make women like my sister and her friend easier to write than five years before, when they were making these stupid jokes, but had no jobs, no steady boyfriends, no place of their own or even cars. Yet, at the time five years ago, my sister and her friend were full of as much depth, as much character, and as many arches. Without the easy to navigate, agreed upon identities of the adult world, how would someone know how to draw those out? How would you construct metaphors, analogies, and have them be ones that weren’t condescending and pretentious?

To this we turn to Alicia Silverstone.

“I think that Clueless was very deep. I think it was deep in the way that it was very light. I think lightness has to come from a very deep place if it is true lightness."

Clairyoant?

In order to draw meaning from young female protagonists, we need to look to their lightness to understand their depth, and if we do this, the depth we will discover will feel genuine to both the writer and reader. You need to ignore the fact that my sister and her friend were laughing at me and focus on the joyfulness of the laughter itself, then focus not on my sister’s explanation of, “Have you ever seen a hippopotamus out of the water?” and pay attention to the look she gave me, the, what’s the matter with you, don’t you get it? glare. In this lies the soul, purpose and heart of young women, especially teenage women, and this lives in us all from time to time, place to place, and it does not in anyway require—to the disappointment of male writers the world over—hanging out with, getting to know, or secretly hoping you score nineteen year old coeds.

The older we get, the more we become “adults,” “professionals,” “men and women,” “husband and wives,” “fathers and mothers.” We accept these labels and wear them like badges of honor. They become a mantra we bring into our work places, our social circles, and the voting booth. Unfortunately, with each passing day, we forget, and we lose, part of that lightness—that place where identity is self-determined, and drawn from the metaphysical thing which happens when you’re around people you really love, like all-out love. Some of us hang onto some of it, many of us vaguely recall it, lots of us surrender totally and pathetically to what can easily and ironically be described as the child-like, vapid pool of adult decision making. Of this we must all be careful, and if you’re a writer even moreso, because before you realize it, you’re not only not understanding what Awkward Turtle is, but you’re so embarrassed you’re not even bothering to ask, and instead of engaging and learning about the world, you’re smugly handing out an award about how it’s the Most Baffling Statement of 2012, all so you can, in the most vain of vain attempts, feel better about yourself—and it’ll work, you will feel better about yourself, and you’ll feel certain of your place in this world, but go back and look at your writing, really look at it and dissect it and question it…

What do you feel now?

Hey! Justin Ordoñez wrote a book called Sykosa. It’s about a sixteen year old girl who’s trying to reclaim her identity after an act of violence destroys her life and the lives of her friends. You can find out more about Justin at his blog. You can also find Sykosa, the novel on Amazon.


About the Book

Sykosa (that's "sy"-as-in-"my" ko-sa) is a sixteen-year-old girl trying to reclaim her identity after an act of violence shatters her life and the life of her friends. This process is complicated by her best friend, Niko, a hyper-ambitious, type-A personality who has started to war with other girls for social supremacy of their school, a prestigious preparatory academy in the Pacific Northwest of the United States. To compensate, Sykosa has decided to fall in love with her new boyfriend, Tom, who was involved in the act of violence.

Propelled by survivor guilt, an anxiety disorder, and her hunger for Tom and his charms, Sykosa attends a weekend-long, unchaperoned party at Niko's posh vacation cottage, where she will finally confront Niko on their friendship, her indecision about her friends and their involvement in the act of violence, and she will make the biggest decision of her life — whether or not she wants to lose her virginity to Tom.

Paperback Price: $12.95
Genre: Young Adult
Pages: 320
ISBN: 9780985424312
Publisher: TDS Publishing
Release: March 2012
Buy Links:  Amazon, Barnes and Noble


About the Author

Justin Ordoñez was born in Spain, raised in the mid-west, and currently lives in Seattle. He's nearly thirty years old, almost graduated from the University of Washington, and prefers to wait until TV shows come out on DVD so he can watch them in one-shot while playing iPad games. For fifteen years, he has written as a freelance writer, occasionally doing pieces as interesting as an editorial, but frequently helping to craft professional documents or assisting in the writing of recommendation letters for people who have great praise for friends or colleagues and struggle to phrase it. Sykosa is his debut novel.

Links to connect with Justin:
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Blog
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Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Joyce T. Strand - Open Meetings (Jillian Hillcrest Mystery #2) - Guest Post

Guest Post
When Your Readers Want to Learn a Little Something


As an author, my first goal is to entertain my readers with a good mystery. However, when I queried my targeted readers, I discovered that they also want to learn a “little something.” So I try to inform them as well.

Many authors inform. Some do it quite well. Others take longer. Some prefer to offer only action and an entertaining story, with little information. I truly enjoyed learning about Swedish life in Stieg Larsson’s series, which are all highly entertaining. And about the expansiveness of doll collecting in Deb Baker’s mysteries. I still remember discovering what it was like living in winter-time Alaska in Nora Roberts’ NORTHERN LIGHTS. My favorite author, James Clavell, imparted life in feudal Japan in SHOGUN. I felt like I was there and learned history as well as new perspectives.

So I concur with my readers: learning something while being entertained is a laudable goal of a good book, and even of a good mystery. The issue is balancing information dissemination with an entertaining story. Too much data results in boring background that readers feel they need to “wade through.”

One obvious method of delivering information while telling a story is to provide it as part of the plot. Deb Baker’s description of doll collection is an integral part of the mystery, for example. She leads us through the various doll collection aspects to offer clues and solve the crime. Each new piece of information leads us to a conclusion or diverts us in its role of a red herring.

Another method is to offer information through character descriptions. We learn a lot about feudal Japan through Clavell’s characters – through their dialogue, actions, and reactions to events. I use this method in my mysteries about a PR executive in Silicon Valley who is drawn into solving crimes. I inform my readers about the business of conducting public relations in the biotech environment through the activities of my protagonist Jillian Hillcrest.

However, not all readers want to learn something, I discovered. Reading a Patterson mystery seldom offers any new information, although it certainly entertains. So an important part of offering information is knowing your targeted readers and writing to them. I write mysteries. So primarily, I am looking for readers who like to read and solve puzzles. I also learned that my readers are not necessarily looking for great literature, but they do want to learn something—but not too much.

The balance between “data” and “story” is a tricky one. Whether we supply information as an integral part of a plot or through developing our characters, we need to understand and be mindful of what our targeted readers want. There will be many who don’t care about learning something new. Others will only read a book with “substance.” Who we choose to target determines how we write.


About the Book

PR Executive Jillian Hillcrest is having lunch with a reporter colleague when a woman enters and begs him not to print anything she’s told him because they will kill her if he does. A few days later, the reporter tells Jillian that the woman died in a car crash in his hometown. The police ruled her death an accident caused by driving under the influence of alcohol. Although Jillian is busy promoting her Silicon Valley biotech company, the reporter draws her into an investigation of his hometown police department, located in California north of the Napa-Sonoma wine region.

Coincidentally, Jillian’s neighbor Cynthia Anderson wonders about the untimely death of her policeman husband years earlier as part of the same police department. Meanwhile, Jillian’s ex-husband hovers over her to reverse the “ex” status. Unfortunately, none of them anticipates the frightening events that follow.

Price: $7.99 paperback $3.99 e-book
Pages: 307
Genre: Mystery
Publisher: McCloughan and Schmeltz
Release date: July 3, 2012
Buy links: Paperback, Ebook


About the Author

Joyce T. Strand, much like her fictional character, Jillian Hillcrest, served as head of corporate communications at several biotech and high-tech companies in Silicon Valley spanning more than 25 years. Unlike Jillian, however, she did not encounter murder. Rather, she focused on publicizing her companies and their products. Joyce received her Ph.D. from The George Washington University, Washington, D.C.; and her B.A. from Dickinson College, Carlisle, PA.

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Monday, August 27, 2012

Karen Vorbeck Williams - My Enemy’s Tears: The Witch of Northampton - Author Interview

Author Interview

1. How did you come up with the title?
My Enemy’s Tears: The Witch of Northampton came to me very late. My book required a great deal of research and it was while reading some Puritan poetry that I found the words: “the enemy’s tears.” It just jumped out at me because that is exactly what the book is about, having an enemy, someone who blames you for their misfortunes, hating and fearing you so much that they want you dead. Unfortunately I don’t remember the book I was reading at the time.

2. Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
Readers have mentioned a number of messages they have taken away. The book is about an ancestor of mine (my 11th great grandmother) who was accused of witchcraft in 17th century New England—fertile soil for messages, don’t you think. The very first message goal I had while writing the book was to help people understand that time and that culture. Why did early modern people believe so strongly in the power of the devil and witchcraft?

3. How much of the book is realistic?
The book is as factual as I could possibly make it nearly 400 years after the story happened. Actually, my intention from the start was to be as true to the real story as I could, to do my best to understand these characters and their world.

4. If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your book?
I’d have to think long and hard about that. Nothing comes to mind.

5. What was the hardest part of writing your book?
Believing that I could write this book.

6. Did you learn anything from writing your book and what was it?
I learned a world of things, a universe full of things. Do you have another 450 pages for me to fill? For our purposes here I’ll pick one thing: hire a good editor and edit until you drop.

7. Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?
It was when my high school freshman English teacher Esther Conway asked her class to write a short story. I really loved making up the story and writing it. When I turned it in she gave it a low mark and as she handed it back to me announced to the whole class, “This is too well written. I don’t believe Karen wrote it herself.” My mother told me that Miss Conway had given me a “backhanded compliment.”

8. Who is your favorite author and what is it that really strikes you about their work?
I love so many that the question is impossible to answer but I can say that I want a lot from a book and writers like Jane Austen, John Steinbeck, Charles Dickens, Willa Cather, Elizabeth Strout, Dorothy L. Sayers have what I want—great stories, brilliant words. Right now I’m reading East of Eden again. I also enjoy non-fiction. No surprise, Erik Larson is my favorite.

9. Tell us your latest news.
That would be the book I’m deep into writing now and the book I want to write next. The first is my version of a mystery. My editor says it is NOT a genre mystery, but that’s okay with me. The second is a non-fiction I’m working on with a researcher—a book about an historic house where I used to live, where I raised my children. 


10. Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
I would want to thank them for being so very generous with their praise for the book, their openness about how much the book meant to them and how they were moved by Mary’s incredible story.


About the Book

My Enemy’s Tears: The Witch of Northampton is based on the historical record of Mary Bliss Parsons and Sarah Lyman Bridgeman, whose lives trace the journey of English Separatists to the New World, the growth of the first settlements along the Connecticut River from Hartford to Northampton, the lives of women in 17th century New England, and the conflict of faith and reason that gave rise to American democracy.

The Puritans in Hartford, which is at first little more than a campsite, find the wilderness a terrifying place full of warring natives, pestilences and floods destroying their crops, blazing comets, earthquakes and hurricanes—all portents of God’s anger or a witch’s meddling curse. Mary Bliss and Sarah Lyman grow up amid Puritan superstition and piety, busy with their household chores, one imagining a life different from her mother’s and the other eager to marry and bear sons.

Mary Parsons and Sarah Bridgeman spend their married lives in the villages of Springfield and Northampton, where a youthful disagreement festers into a reason to hate and then to fear. As the years pass, one accuses the other of murder by witchcraft, prompting a trial before the Court of Assistants in Boston—17 years before the infamous Salem Witch Trials.

My Enemy’s Tears looks at two lives—one blessed and one cursed—and the transcendent power of forgiveness.

Price: $20.95
Pages: 450
Genre: Historical Fiction
Publisher: Wheatmark
Release date: October 2011
Buy links: Amazon


About the Author

It all started at her grandmother's knee.

Karen Vorbeck Williams grew up hearing stories about her ancestor who was accused of witchcraft in New England: Mary Bliss Parsons who lived in Northampton, Massachusetts and was indicted, imprisoned and stood trial for witchcraft in 1675, 17 years before the Salem witch trials.

Although Karen believed her grandmother, she didn’t necessarily believe in witches – until she saw one for herself.

One evening just after sunset when Karen was a child, a dark figure looked in through the living room window of her family’s home. The old woman cupped her hands around her face and fixed her eyes on the 3 Vorbeck sisters who were gathered in a frightened knot whispering, “A witch.” The stranger stared a moment, then fled into the mounting dusk.

What Karen didn’t know then was that her childhood reaction to the dark figure in the window was as old as time itself, that thousands upon thousands of innocent people had died in flames or at the end of a rope because of the accusations of young girls, fearful clergy or farmers whose crops had failed.

The stories she heard about Mary instilled a lifelong fascination in Karen. She wanted to know the truth about this woman. Who was she? Legend said this witch of Northampton was young and a great beauty—if haughty and outspoken. But many of the people who knew Goodwife Parsons as a flesh and blood woman were quite certain that she had made friends with the Devil, that her incantations made their cows die, their spinning go awry and sickened their newborn babies. They believed she could murder with her spells.

Karen spent 20 years researching and writing the story of her ancestors’ adventures settling the New World. Though it took many years to write her novel My Enemy’s Tears, she could not resist sharing it with others. Now an amateur historian, she looks forward to finishing another book of historical fiction and a novel set in the 1940–50s. Previously, Williams has been an editor, a prize-winning photographer and a garden designer. In her free time, she designs websites for friends and enjoys her garden. She lives in Rumford, Rhode Island.

Links to connect with Karen:
Web site (book)

Web site (author)
Facebook
YouTube



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Friday, August 24, 2012

Cover Reveal - Gilded Wings: The Angel Chronicles, Book 2 by Amy Lignor



COMMENTS WELCOME! 

Cover Reveal of Gilded Wings: The Angel Chronicles, Book 2
Friday, August 24, 2012

Click here to add to your Goodreads to-read list.

The Beloved Angel/Warrior Team from Until Next Time Returns!

When Matt and Emily are sent on their second mission they have no idea how truly dark human nature can become…

Emily never wanted to face humans again. With the heartache that went on down below, she’s still trying to figure out how to save souls that don’t deserve saving. The only one she wants to see again is Jason - the young man she fell in love with who became the soulmate she simply can’t forget…

Matt was trained to protect and defend the souls down below. Longing to feel the heartfelt emotions that come from being human, Matt wants nothing more than to have just one life - one chance - to live and love the girl of his dreams…

The powerful team find themselves in a brand new century, living in the Gilded Age of New York City. Emily takes over the body of Anya, a young Russian girl who arrives on Ellis Island after a hideous tragedy. There she meets up with a strangely familiar young man by the name of Drew Parrish, who helps Anya survive in an unknown world of luxury, snobbery and…obsession.

What Anya’s inner angel doesn’t know is that the soul she loves is also back. This time around Jason goes by the name of Max Carrow. Once a quiet and kind boy, he’s now part of the ‘Four Hundred Club,’ and wants nothing more than to be among the most admired as he climbs the shaky ladder of society’s elite.

As two worlds merge, Emily and Matt struggle under the weight of their “Gilded Wings.” Not only will they have to figure out who they should fight to save, but they must also face a romantic choice that could destroy them both.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Eric Devine - Tap Out - Author Interview

Author Interview

1. How did you come up with the title?

To "tap out" in mixed martial arts is to surrender the fight, to give up. The protagonist in Tap Out (Tony Antioch) is in a fight for his life, in a literal and figurative sense. The undercurrent of the novel is about making choices when the options at hand are layered with consequences. Essentially Tony has the choice of "tapping out" throughout the novel, and it is his character and the theme that dictates whether he does so or not.

2. Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?

So often in Young Adult literature dilemmas are very straightforward: Choose "A" because it's the selfless, noble act; do not choose "B" because it's morally wrong. Yet, the real world does not often present such simple terms. I want readers to disregard any preconceived notions of what one should do at any and all times, and consider what sometimes must be done in order to have the opportunity for more options.

3. How much of the book is realistic?

I am sure there are teens right now living Tony's life, but it is not based on any one of them. I am also certain there are teens learning mixed martial arts, but I cannot guarantee Tony's training will mimic anyone else's. I did a fair amount of research into MMA, including sitting in on classes, talking with athletes and watching countless hours of YouTube footage. I've worked with teens for the past decade and have a good handle on the struggles that exist across the socioeconomic spectrum, as well as what it's like to have abusive and or drug addicted parents. It's as authentic as any novel you will find.


4. If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your book?

I am exceptionally proud of Tap Out and would change nothing. That's quite a statement for a novel so raw and unapologetic. All of the events occur for a reason, in spite of how gut-wrenching they may be.


5. What was the hardest part of writing your book?

Staying with the story. I work full time as a high school English teacher and have two young daughters. I write in the morning before I go to work, which means it may take me a week to write a chapter. In the course of the months it takes to get the entire novel down, it's easy for life to get in the way and for the story's focus to drift. Therefore, I plotted like crazy and kept a continually evolving bulleted list of what I believed needed to occur from chapter-to-chapter.


6. Did you learn anything from writing your book and what was it?

Appropriate plotting and pacing. My agent Kate McKean has worked into my subconscious the need for the "stakes to be exceptionally high" at the very beginning and to keep them that way throughout. I asked myself one question at every turn of the novel: How can I make Tony's life worse? I believe because the reader will care about him from page one, the resolution of that high stakes plan is what makes Tap Out a page turner.

7. Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?

In high school I wrote a lot of poetry, kept a journal, and read everything I could get my hands on. It wasn't until college that I thought I could give fiction a try. I was awful at the beginning, and I think that failure set up the challenge for me. Not only would I write well, but well enough for my writing to sell.

8. Who is your favorite author and what is it that really strikes you about their work?

I do not have any one favorite author. I believe I've read all of Chuck Palahniuk's work and a significant amount of Stephen King's and Peter Straub's and Cormac McCarthy's. Their dark influences are obvious in Tap Out. Yet, as an English teacher, I read the classics yearly, as well as hunt for new writers all of the time. I will never have a favorite, but a whole host of influencers.

9. Tell us your latest news.

Tap Out releases on 9/11 and I am in the midst of scheduling signings and interviews and a release party (in an MMA studio). I am beyond excited for readers to get a chance to enter the world I've created, and I hope to hear form them on Twitter. I am discussing my next novel with the editor of Tap out, Lisa Cheng, and am most of the way through my work in progress.

10. Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
Tap Out is a story of trying to persevere in the face of seemingly insurmountable odds. Life is like that. Writing is like that. The trick is to never give up. I hope my work provides a worthwhile example of how.


About the Book

Seventeen-year-old Tony Antioch lives in Pleasant Meadows, a trailer park where questions aren't asked since everyone already knows the answers from their own experience. He dreams of rescuing his mother from her constant stream of abusive boyfriends but in reality can barely duck the punches that are aimed at himself.

When Tony is coerced into joining his friend Rob's Mixed Martial Arts class, he is surprised to find that he has a talent that he actually wants to develop. But with a meth-dealing biker gang that is hungry for recruits and a vicious cycle of poverty and violence that precedes him, Tony is going to need a lot more than blood and guts to find a way out.

Gritty, powerful, and unapologetic, Tap Out explores what it takes to stay true to oneself and the consequences of the choices made along the way in order to do so.

Reading level: Ages 14 and up
Pages: 320
Publisher: Running Press Kids
Release Date: September 11, 2012
ISBN-13: 978-0762445691
E-book ISBN: 978-0-7624-4700-8
Price: $9.95
Buy Links: Amazon, Kindle


About the Author

Eric Devine is currently a writer, high-school English teacher, and educational consultant. He is also the author of This Side of Normal. He lives in Waterford, NY, with his family.

Links to connect with Eric:
Web site
Twitter






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Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Jennifer Probst - The Marriage Bargain - Author Interview

Author Interview

1. How did you come up with the title?
I wanted it simple and to the point, and always loved books with marriage in the title. My editors agreed!

2. Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
Yes, love and relationships are messy But I believe a true heart will always win, even if it doesn't seem so in the moment. Alexa and Nick had many hurdles to overcome and I think most couples in life battle the odds on a daily basis. I like to see them win.

3. How much of the book is realistic?
Well, there are some parts I drew on from experience, but I loved the idea of coming up with a current marriage of convenience story. Those are fun, and the reason I love writing fiction. Anything goes!

4. If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your book?
I had a secondary subplot with Alexa's mother and father - Maria and Jim. It would be fun to put that back and add some extra layers to the story.

5. What was the hardest part of writing your book?
Nothing. I loved writing this book - it was my true North. The hardest part was trying to sell it and get a publisher to fall in love with the book like I did.

6. Did you learn anything from writing your book and what was it?
Persevere. It was too easy to throw this book in the drawer and move on. I believed it was special, so I kept revising and tweaking and trying to get it to fit into the right market. Eventually, I got there so it was a great lesson to learn.

7. Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?
Since birth. I always knew I wanted to write. Even my mom said as soon as I was able to express myself, I was telling stories to anyone who would listen. I was obsessed with books and writing since my first picture book!

8. Who is your favorite author and what is it that really strikes you about their work?
I have many favorites so this is quite difficult. I'd have to say I would go with Susan Elizabeth Phillips. She writes amazing secondary characters, uses humor brilliantly, and her writing is clean and enjoyable. She has a gorgeous voice that gives me pleasure every time I pick up one of her books.

9. Tell us your latest news.
We sold the Marriage to a Billionaire series to Pocket books! We're very excited about the transition and what's to come. The Marriage Trap will be available soon which details Maggie and Michael's story, and then book three, The Marriage Mistake, will be issued shortly after that.

10. Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
I love hearing from all my readers so stalking is highly encouraged!


About the Book

To save her family home, Alexa Maria McKenzie casts a love spell and conjures up her best friend’s older brother—the powerful man who once shattered her heart.

Billionaire Nicholas Ryan doesn’t believe in marriage, but in order to inherit his father’s corporation, he offers Alexa a bold proposition.

A marriage in name only with certain rules: Avoid entanglement. Keep things all business. Do not fall in love. The arrangement is only for a year so the rules shouldn’t be that hard to follow, right?

Except fate has a way of upsetting the best-laid plans…

Publisher: Entangled Publishing
Paperback Release Date: September 4, 2012
Price: $7.99 (mass market paperback), $12.99 (trade paperback), $2.99 (Kindle)
Pages: 302
ePub ISBN: 978-1-62266-903-5
Print ISBN: 978-1-62061-279-8
Buy Link: Amazon


About the Author

Jennifer Probst is the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and USA Today bestselling author of The Marriage Bargain. She wrote her first book at twelve years old. She bound it in a folder, read it to her classmates, and hasn’t stopped writing since. She makes her home in upstate New York with the whole crew who keep her active, stressed, joyous, and sad that her house will never be truly clean.

Links to connect with Jennifer:
Web site
Blog 
Facebook
Twitter




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Sunday, August 19, 2012

Andrea Thalasnios - An Echo Through the Snow - Author Interview

Author Interview

1. How did you come up with the title?
Actually I didn’t. It was my agent Marlene Stringer’s idea. The original title of the book was HUSKY.

2. Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
There are so many messages, but if I have to pick one, it would be to follow your gut. In an era so sophisticated and analytic it’s that simple. Even when it seems crazy and everything around you is indicating otherwise, step out, commit yourself, do what you feel inside is right for you in a given situation. 



3. How much of the book is realistic?
I believe the entire book is realistic. As for Rosalie, people go into early stupid marriage and get out of them. People see animals that are being neglected or abused and rather than turning away, they take action to correct that, even if it is at the expense of their own safety or own self-interests. And sometimes after having followed those ‘gut’ impulses they find their lives change course. Sometimes in a direction they might have never seen or chosen otherwise. I guess you could Rosalie’s one decision served as a catalyst or agent of change. Doors swing open, others shut if you let them. Sometimes your life is trying to work its way towards you.

With the Chukchi, the brutality of Josef Stalin has been well documented. As for Tariem throughout his life, the ‘fog of war’ is something that people for millennia have struggled with. You lose loved ones, get separated. In today’s day of smart phones, internet, it’s not difficult to track people down. But in 1930s Siberia? Think about it.

4. If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your book?
Yes. I would get more inside of Rosalie’s head. Part of her character was to be evasive, painfully shy, lacking confidence, but even that could have been developed much more. 



5. What was the hardest part of writing your book?
Believing in myself. Since I don’t have an MFA or the traditional writing credentials or pedigree, I kept questioning my ‘authority’ to be writing fiction. I believed in the story all along, but believing I could do it justice was the hardest challenge. 



6. Did you learn anything from writing your book and what was it?
I learned everything from my book. Not only to write well but to trust the process. Writing is a process. It’s a mysterious thing that you have to sit with sometimes for long periods of time to allow it to work itself out in the subconscious. It can’t be rushed. It has to be trusted and believed. That was what I learned. 



7. Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?
Many years ago as a small child when I had a writing assignment for school and the lights went during a blackout in New York; I had to write a story by oil lantern at the kitchen table. 



8. Who is your favorite author and what is it that really strikes you about their work?
There are many authors I love. Off the top of my head: Marilynne Robinson—Gilead, Home, Housekeeping. Some of my all time favorite novels. The subtlety of character, their warmth, their private struggles. And Housekeeping is just magical. It gives me chills to just remember it. Also Joyce Carol Oates—masterful how she draws character, pulls you in and develops the narrative. And Russell Banks. What can I say? Continental Drift, Rule of the Bone and his latest, Lost Memory of Skin. He goes where no one else will dare treat and I love that about him.

9. Tell us your latest news.
I woke up this morning and I’m enjoying a cup of coffee.

10. Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
It’s my wish that you enjoy, learn about a way of life you hadn’t previously known and have something new to take away from the experience.


About the Book

In today's climate of hopelessness and despair, Madison College professor Andrea Thalasinos’s AN ECHO THROUGH THE SNOW (A Forge Hardcover; On Sale: August 21, 2012; $23.99) is a story of relationships between unlikely people that compel them to persevere with the belief that a better world is possible. Far eastern Siberia and the Red Cliff Indian Reservation on Lake Superior in Wisconsin become center stage when the forces of personal and cultural destruction entice the characters into surrender and desperation.

In 1919 when young Jeaantaa's betrothed dies in a hunt on the Bering Sea, she is pressured into an unwanted marriage to Tariem, his older brother. Ten years later as Stalin's Red Army advances to their village on the Bering seacoast, Jeaantaa is forced to make a decision about their dogs, called guardians. Her actions put her at odds with both her husband and the ancient ways of the Chukchi. Thwarting their family's plan to escape into reindeer country, she vanishes after a meeting with Robert Ramsay, a young man from Nome, Alaska. Her disappearance leaves Tariem haunted for a lifetime as to her fate and the whereabouts of dozens of their young dogs.

In 1992, eighteen-year-old Rosalie McKenzie is at odds with the world. Stuck in a destructive marriage along with a string of dead-end jobs, she breaks ranks to save Smokey, an abused husky, at great consequence to her own well-being. As Rosalie gains a passion for this elegant animal, she unwittingly ventures along a path of self-discovery. Hired as a dog handler by Jan and Dave, who own a local sled dog racing kennel, she finds herself center stage in the world of competitive dog sledding.

At a competition she meets Charlie Gokee, a veterinarian and retired Alaskan dog musher who sees in Rosalie all the spirit, strength and potential she fails to recognize in herself. Rosalie shines as she comes into her own. And it's through a series of mysterious events or remembrances that Rosalie embodies the spirit of Jeaantaa as a contemporary Keeper of the Guardians. Through Charlie, she meets legendary musher Robert Ramsay who opens doors to the many puzzling dreams and intuitions that served as the initial impetus for saving Smokey.

Price: $23.99
Pages: 368
Publisher: Tor Forge
Release Date: August 21, 2012
Buy Links: Amazon,  Barnes and Noble 


About the Author

ANDREA THALASINOS, Ph.D., is a professor of sociology at Madison College. Her respect for huskies grew while she was running her own sled team of six dogs. She helped found a dog rescue group in the upper Midwest for displaced northern breeds. Andrea lives and writes in Madison, Wisconsin. AN ECHO THROUGH THE SNOW is her first novel.

Link to connect with Andrea:
Web Site
 

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Thursday, August 16, 2012

Cover Reveal - Wicked Sense by Fabio Bueno



Cover Reveal
Wicked Sense: Singularity Book One
by Fabio Bueno

Witches inhabit our world, organized in covens and hiding behind a shroud of secrecy— the Veil.

Skye’s London coven sends her to Seattle’s Greenwood High to find the Singularity, an unusually gifted witch who may break the Veil and trigger a dangerous new era of witch-hunting. Things get complicated when Skye meets a charming new classmate, Drake. Skye’s job becomes even trickier when she clashes with Jane, an intimidating rival witch.

Drake falls for the mysterious Skye, but odd accidents, potion mix-ups, and the occasional brush with death kind of get in the way of romance. Once he discovers Skye is a witch, he goes to war for her, even though his only weapons are a nice set of abs and a sharp sense of humor.

Fighting off wicked Jane and the other dark forces hell-bent on seizing the Singularity's immense power, Skye and Drake will risk everything to save the covens.

Going on a date has never been harder.



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Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Mitzi Szereto - Normal for Norfolk (The Thelonious T. Bear Chronicles) - Author Interview

Author Interview

1. How did you come up with the title?
Normal for Norfolk is a common expression in some parts of the United Kingdom used to signify those who are somewhat, shall we say, intellectually challenged. Therefore if someone from Norfolk behaves or does something a bit odd from what’s considered the “norm” in other places, it’s considered “normal for Norfolk.” There’s a longer explanation for the origin of the expression and it’s included in the book. Normal for Norfolk (The Thelonious T. Bear Chronicles) is actually a quirky and humorous crime novel/cozy mystery that I’ve co-authored with my famous bear, Teddy Tedaloo (https://www.facebook.com/teddytedaloo.fanpage). It’s the first in a series featuring the hapless ursine protagonist Thelonious T. Bear, who definitely gets a lesson when it comes to what’s normal for Norfolk!




2. Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
There wasn’t a specific message when I began, but I will say that as the book continued to develop, I discovered that it was tackling issues beyond the usual scope of a humorous cozy mystery/quirky crime novel. The protagonist has spent his entire life being made to feel as if there’s something wrong with him because he’s different. And yes, Thelonious is different—he’s a bear living among humans in human society! This is not an easy life, especially when you live in the big city (in this case London) and have to deal with all the complexities and aggravations that go along with it. In a way Thelonious becomes a metaphor for those who don’t fit into society because of how they look or because of a disability or physical limitation. I’m not sure there’s a message here, but perhaps by reading the novel and experiencing events from Thelonious’s unique perspective, people can understand what life is like for someone who’s very different from the so-called norm.



3. How much of the book is realistic?
I think you need to look at the book in the context of magic realism, in that the protagonist happens to be a small bear who’s a photojournalist by profession and drives a Mini Cooper, wears a deerstalker hat, and enjoys having a pint down the pub! These somewhat fantastical elements co-exist quite naturally in the “real” world, therefore you come to accept them. There are quite a few elements in the book that came from our own experiences and were inspired by people we met while staying in Norfolk. The scene with Thelonious at the pub full of Londoners was spot on, even down to the high prices, Cuban cigars and snooty barmaid!

4. If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your book?
Probably not. Though I’m sure if I read it in two years’ time, I’d probably think of things I wish we’d done, but I’m sure every author experiences that—and you can’t beat yourself over the head about it. To be honest, Teddy and I can hardly wait to write the next book in the series. We’ve already chosen the location and have the plotline in place, but I’m not giving out any details!



5. What was the hardest part of writing your book?
Because this was the first book in the series, we needed to do a lot of setting up in order to introduce Thelonious T. Bear to the reader as well as anticipate any questions that might pop into a reader’s mind, providing a ready answer so that Thelonious’s world made sense to them. Trying to second guess an unidentified reader is not an easy talk. I hope we’ve managed to accomplish that with some success.



6. Did you learn anything from writing your book and what was it?
I think you always learn something new with each book you do. With Normal for Norfolk (The Thelonious T. Bear Chronicles), the main character was the key to the entire book, so it was literally like climbing inside Thelonious and living life through him. In fact, it was a bit like method acting, but for writers!



7. Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?
I’ve written ever since childhood. Even in school I was always writing stories and poetry, and I’m certain my teachers saw the spark in me that signified writing might be the direction I was headed in. Having said that, I was also very interested and occupied with art and music, so I suppose it’s fair to say that I could have gone in one of those directions too. Perhaps if I’d ended up in the music business, my eyesight wouldn’t be so bad from being on the computer day and night!



8. Who is your favorite author and what is it that really strikes you about their work?
I can’t really name one specific author. There are many whose work I enjoy for one reason or another, and I’m sure I’ll leave some out. But we can start with Vladimir Nabokov, Hanif Kureishi, Ruth Rendell, Alice Walker, Margaret Atwood, Dean Koontz; I’m all over the literary spectrum. I’ve always loved multi-cultural literature, particularly novels by and about British Asians (the same goes for film). I also enjoy a good psychological thriller. Depends on my mood really.



9. Tell us your latest news.
I have a fantasy-themed anthology of short stories coming out in September 2012 called Thrones of Desire: Erotic Tales of Swords, Mist and Fire. Obviously you can tell by the title that it features some steamy fare! If you’re a fan of the HBO television series “Game of Thrones” (or the George R.R. Martin books from which the series is based), you’ll enjoy this book. I’m also working on another novel, which I need to deliver around the new year. It’s a sequel to a classic work of literature and will contain elements of the Gothic in it as well as being erotic. Once that is finished, I plan to get back with my writing partner Teddy Tedaloo and pen the second book in The Thelonious T. Bear Chronicles series. I also have a paranormal-themed novel I’m co-writing with another author and hopefully it will reach fruition in 2013.



10. Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
I’d like to thank them for their continued support and interest in my work. I hope they’ll enjoy reading Normal for Norfolk (The Thelonious T. Bear Chronicles) and my other books!



About the Book

Pub landlords are being murdered in Norfolk!

Thelonious T. Bear, ursine photojournalist, leaves behind the big city life of London to take an assignment in the Norfolk countryside, where he hopes to find the real England. Instead he stumbles upon gastro-pubs, crazed Audi drivers and murder. As the hapless Thelonious keeps ending up in the wrong place at the wrong time, he attracts the attention of Detective Chief Inspector Horatio Sidebottom of Norfolk Constabulary CID, who’s determined to tie Thelonious to the crimes. Add in a pair of hoods from London’s East End, celebrity TV chef Paolo Louis Black, and plenty of oddball local characters and it all adds up to a madcap journey through England’s most quirky county, where everything is normal for Norfolk!

Price: $10.99 (paperback); $4.99 (Kindle and Nook e-book)
Pages: 186
Genre: Crime, Cozy Mystery
Publisher: Thelonious T. Bear Books
Release date: July 2012
Buy links: Amazon US, Amazon UK, Amazon Canada, Barnes and Noble, Borders Australia


About the Author

Mitzi Szereto (mitziszereto.com) is an author and anthology editor of multi-genre fiction and nonfiction. She has her own blog, Errant Ramblings: Mitzi Szereto’s Weblog (mitziszereto.com/blog) and a Web TV channel, Mitzi TV (mitziszereto.com/tv), which covers “quirky” London. Her books include the Jane Austen parody Pride and Prejudice: Hidden Lusts; Thrones of Desire: Erotic Tales of Swords, Mist and Fire; Red Velvet and Absinthe: Paranormal Erotic Romance; In Sleeping Beauty’s Bed: Erotic Fairy Tales; Getting Even: Revenge Stories; Wicked: Sexy Tales of Legendary Lovers; Dying For It: Tales of Sex and Death; the Erotic Travel Tales anthologies and many other titles. A popular social media personality and frequent interviewee, she has pioneered erotic writing workshops in the United Kingdom and mainland Europe and lectured in creative writing at several British universities. Her anthology Erotic Travel Tales 2 is the first anthology of erotica to feature a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature. She divides her time between England and the United States.

Teddy Tedaloo is a celebrity teddy bear, trendsetter, world traveler, and the production assistant extraordinaire/co-star of the web TV channel Mitzi TV. Widely popular in social media circles such as Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/teddytedaloo.fanpage) and Twitter (https://twitter.com/teddytedaloo), he’s known for his entertaining commentary as well as being an advocate for animal welfare. He lives (and goes) wherever Mitzi lives (and goes). Normal for Norfolk is his first novel.

Links to connect with Mitzi:
Web site
Blog
Facebook (Mitzi)
Facebook (Teddy)
Twitter (Mitzi)
Twitter (Teddy)
YouTube

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Last Days of Freedom Giveaway Hop

Congratulations to our winner!
bookaholicholly [at] gmail [dot] com


Enter to win the young adult ebook release, The Color of Snow from Tribute Books.


1) Click here to like Tribute Books on Facebook.

2) Leave a comment with your email address.

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The Color of Snow
by Brenda Stanley


Can a troubled young girl reenter society after living in isolation?

When a beautiful 16-year-old girl named Sophie is found sequestered in a cage-like room in a rundown house in the desolate hills of Arbon Valley, Idaho, the entire community is shocked to learn she is the legendary Callidora--a baby girl who was kidnapped from her crib almost seventeen years ago and canonized in missing posters with portraits of what the fabled girl might resemble. Authorities soon learn that the cage was there to protect people from Sophie, because her biological father believes she is cursed.

Sophie is discovered after the man she knows as Papa, shoots and injures Damien, a young man who is trying to rescue her. Now, unsocialized and thrust into the world, and into a family she has never met, Sophie must decide whether she should accept her Papa’s claims that she is cursed and he was only trying to protect others, or trust the new people in her life who have their own agendas. Guided by a wise cousin, Sophie realizes that her most heartbreaking challenge is to decide if her love for Damien will destroy him like her Papa claims, or free her from past demons that haunt her mind.

http://the-color-of-snow.blogspot.com/


Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Gilded Wings Cover Reveal - August 24 at Novel d'Tales



Cover Reveal of Gilded Wings: The Angel Chronicles, Book 2
Friday, August 24, 2012

Click here to RSVP to the cover reveal.

Click here to add to your Goodreads to-read list.


The Beloved Angel/Warrior Team from Until Next Time Returns!

When Matt and Emily are sent on their second mission they have no idea how truly dark human nature can become…

Emily never wanted to face humans again. With the heartache that went on down below, she’s still trying to figure out how to save souls that don’t deserve saving. The only one she wants to see again is Jason - the young man she fell in love with who became the soulmate she simply can’t forget…

Matt was trained to protect and defend the souls down below. Longing to feel the heartfelt emotions that come from being human, Matt wants nothing more than to have just one life - one chance - to live and love the girl of his dreams…

The powerful team find themselves in a brand new century, living in the Gilded Age of New York City. Emily takes over the body of Anya, a young Russian girl who arrives on Ellis Island after a hideous tragedy. There she meets up with a strangely familiar young man by the name of Drew Parrish, who helps Anya survive in an unknown world of luxury, snobbery and…obsession.

What Anya’s inner angel doesn’t know is that the soul she loves is also back. This time around Jason goes by the name of Max Carrow. Once a quiet and kind boy, he’s now part of the ‘Four Hundred Club,’ and wants nothing more than to be among the most admired as he climbs the shaky ladder of society’s elite.

As two worlds merge, Emily and Matt struggle under the weight of their “Gilded Wings.” Not only will they have to figure out who they should fight to save, but they must also face a romantic choice that could destroy them both.